The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Tag: superman

Man of Steel?

*Don’t worry…there are not that many movie spoilers below.

“Space Jesus…” That was the nickname my friend gave the man of steel as soon as we exited the theater at 3am on June 14. Yes, I was crazy enough to go see the movie at midnight, but that is beside the point. A conversation ensued among the five of us about all the Christ imagery used in the film.

Superman has always been a very “Jesus-esque” character, but there were several moments this seemed to not only rise to the surface…but blatantly jump off the screen. Here are just a few examples of what I’m talking about:

  • Man-of-steel-Christ-poseKal-el (Clark Kent/Superman) was born in a unique way on Krypton. It wasn’t a virgin birth, but the parallel is still there.
  • He was sent by his father to earth as a savior to bring hope.
  • He grew up in obscurity.
  • There was a scene in a church where Clark was talking to a priest and the stained glass Jesus behind him was practically sitting on his shoulder.
  • At one critical point in outer-space, Kal-el was told by his real father (Jor-el) that he must save the world and he began his flight back to earth in a slow-motion-explicitly-cruciform-shape.

I could keep on going, but it is clear that the film makers want us to catch the association they are making between their superman and Jesus. And why not? This association has long existed in the minds of comic book fans…including myself…that is until recently.

As the release date for man of steel approached and more and more trailers released…I found myself thinking a lot about why we like superheroes so much, and specifically about why superman has really fallen from the heights of his popularity throughout the years.

After all, the man of steel reboot itself has been marketed as an update of the superman mythos with a greater appeal to todays audiences. What makes superman different from the other characters we love and why the need for the makeover?

Many of you may not care or think that putting this much thought into a comic-based movie is a foolish waste of time, but I think within these questions we discover important truths about ourselves. I think I discover my desire to be my own savior.

Superheroes like batman, spider-man, the black-widow, the hulk, the x-men, etc. appeal to a wide audience, and the reason is because we find them easy to relate to due to their flaws. Each of these characters has faults or a dark-side. They are far from perfect and yet they still get to be the hero. This appeals to something deep inside me. I am able to put myself in their place and imagine that I am the one who saves the day.

I love a broken hero because that is the only type of hero I could ever be.

old-Superman-comic-cover-superman-84977_590_816The good ol’ man of steel is not like this. We find it difficult to relate with him because he is too perfect. He has every power, perfect character, perfect hair, and on and on. His only weakness has historically been rocks from his true hometown…again, not relatable.

In the truest sense, superman seems like a savior coming from the outside to rescue us. The only place for us in the superman mythos is to imagine ourselves as the one being rescued…we could never be the rescuer in the red cape.

I believe that is why the new Man of Steel movie really goes out of the way to connect Kal-el with humanity. In more or less words it is said that he needed to be “truly human” so  he could serve as a bridge between Kryptonians and humans. There is a much greater emphasis on his relationship with his earthly father, Jonathan Kent, than with Jor-el. Even the title of the film emphasizes his ability to identify with humanity…the first word is MAN.

Yes, he has amazing strength and abilities, but they want us to think of him as a MAN of steel. Here is a superman that we can hopefully identify with…a savior we can hopefully accept so that he can fly back to the heights of his former fame.

That’s all well and good for the world of comic book storytelling…but in reality…is this what we need? Do we need a MAN of steel?

We want so badly to save ourselves and our make-believe media keeps trying to tell a story where that is actually possible. We, humankind, can become the hero/heroines we need to be and, despite our character flaws, save the day. But is that truth? Can we become men/women of steel? Is that even what we need?

I believe we need just the opposite. I believe we have been given just the opposite in Jesus. When you really think about it…Jesus and Superman are not alike…they are actually completely different! And this is good news…because…

baby jesus in mangerWe don’t need a man of steel…we need a God of flesh.

God himself took on flesh. He could identify with us in every way, yet he was without sin. He stepped into this world not made of steel, but made of skin. He was tempted, he cried, he sweat, he bled…he died.

He took on our greatest enemies…the enemies within that corrupt, and the enemies without that kill. He took on sin, death, and the devil…and defeated them all by rising from the dead! He alone is our savior! The one who knows all our weaknesses for he was born, truly human, yet he was and is truly God.

We DO need a savior, not from the stars, but from among us. We need a savior who is one of us, but is not us. The good news of the Gospel is that we have been given one such savior…only one…Jesus Christ. He was not a man of steel…

He was and is the God of flesh.

*PS – I enjoyed the movie. Not the greatest film ever, but I thought it was worth seeing once in the theater.


Dads of Steel

*Disclaimer: I am by not a perfect father! Far from it! In the post below, I do not mean to portray myself as the perfect dad or even as an expert on fatherhood. These are thoughts from one broken father to others.

fathers-day-2011I’ve been thinking about fatherhood a lot lately. And that makes sense…I mean my third baby just entered the world! On top of that, father’s day is just around the corner (June 16).

Growing up within the church, father’s day was always somewhat confusing for me…especially when compared with mother’s day. Perhaps it was my own limited experience, but it always seemed like mother’s day was devoted to the praise/encouragement of mothers…while father’s day was equally devoted to pointing out the failures/scolding fathers.

Even as a kid I felt like this was little unfair. Something was amiss and needed to be rectified. I honestly do not believe the remedy to the situation is simply to turn father’s day into a time to praise/encourage fathers in the same way we do for mothers. When it comes to time the gathered church spends together, our focus should always be Christ!

I’ve seen way too many mother’s/father’s day services (and many other holidays for that matter) that were void of Jesus! I am not saying that we do not even acknowledge holidays, but we should do so in a way that points people to Jesus. We need to point mothers and fathers (and everyone else present) to the sufficiency of Christ in all things, including parenting! Jesus must remain the center of our worship!

I think this is the real problem with father’s day…we have put fathers in the place reserved for Jesus, and whenever we do that they will always fail and we will always feel the need to scold them!

We have come to expect dads to be the hero when there is only one hero…Jesus!

man-of-steel-logoI do not believe it is a coincidence that the highly  anticipated summer blockbuster “Man of Steel” is releasing on June 14th…two days before father’s day. A fun movie about the superhero of superheroes…superman. This is just the kind of movie a dad might take his kids to see (depending on their age of course), and there has always been an emphasis on father figures in the superman mythos via Jor-El and Jonathan Kent.

The real irony of this movie’s release coinciding with father’s day is that, I believe, it highlights the problematic “Christian” view of fatherhood. We expect dads to be supermen. They are to be their kids hero! Perfect men of incredible spiritual stature!

We expect dads of steel!

Most kids naturally look up to their dads as if they are superhuman and, all too often, the “Christian” version of fatherhood only feeds this notion. Yet, all fathers are far from perfect and so having “superman” expectations only sets them up for failure. So what can be done? What should dad’s do? And, what should we do? What should the church be encouraging and calling fathers toward?

The true calling of fatherhood is not to be a hero, but to point to the only hero…Jesus.

I try to consistently acknowledge my shortcomings to my children, be honest when I fail, ask for forgiveness, and then point them to the one who will never fail them! Father’s should turn the shortcomings into opportunities to point to the one who never falls short! This is truly fathering your children towards the perfect heavenly father.

We need to tell our fathers…you don’t have to be a dad of steel! Just be a dad who is real! Real about who you are and who Jesus is!

I think that if  men heard the message, the call (on father’s day and everyday) that you’re not to be the perfect hero for your kids, but you are to point the one who is, then we would see fathers move from feeling discouraged and defeated to energized and empowered! Fathers need to hear that they are not supposed to rely on their own strength to be dads of steel, but that God has provided his strength, through the Holy Spirit, for them to be dads who are real.

IMG_0786Through his power, they can be fathers who really love Jesus, fathers who really love their kids, fathers who really admit when they’re wrong and ask for forgiveness, fathers who really love their wives, fathers who really are committed, fathers who really show vulnerability, fathers who really pray, fathers who really know that true fatherhood is not perfection, but pointing to Jesus.

Be encouraged fathers! We don’t need dads of steel…we need dads who are real.

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